Ukraine Latest: First US-Russian Defense Chiefs Call Since May

Ukraine Latest: First US-Russian Defense Chiefs Call Since May

Updated: 1 month, 9 days, 11 hours, 13 minutes, 20 seconds ago

This content was published on October 21, 2022 - 15:04

(Bloomberg) -- Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the war in Ukraine with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on Friday. It was the first announced call between the two since May. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had detailed discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid about Kyiv’s request for defense systems to help thwart Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones. Israel has offered to assist Ukraine in developing a missile warning system, but has made it clear it won’t provide weapons. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy raised the alarm about the potential for massive flooding in the Kherson region, saying Russian forces have mined a major dam and that such an attack would equate to “the use of weapons of mass destruction.” 

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Key Developments

Putin Targets Ukraine’s Civilians After Losses: Balance of PowerRussia Threatens Flooding With Mined Dam, Zelenskiy Tells EUUkraine Grain and Dollar’s Threat to Food Security: Supply LinesUkrainians Return Home by the Millions Even as War Rages OnTurkey Backs Saudi Arabia in Clash With US Over Oil Output Cuts

On the Ground

Russia struck Ukraine’s second-biggest city of Kharkiv on Friday morning, Oleh Synyehubov, the regional governor, said on Telegram, adding that five people were injured and industrial infrastructure damaged. Ukrainian troops repelled assaults near five settlements in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions over the past day, Ukraine’s General Staff said. Russia is likely preparing to remove military and occupation elements from the western bank of the Dnipro River in anticipation of imminent Ukrainian advances, the US-based Institute for the Study of War said. Ukraine’s “South” command spokesperson Nataliya Humeniuk said on TV that Russian troops are trying to relocate to the left bank of Dnipro.

(All times CET)

IMF, Ukraine Advance Work on Monitoring Program (4:48 p.m.)

The International Monetary Fund said it will “advance work” on a monitoring program with Ukraine as the government seeks to secure billions of dollars in aid after almost eight months of war. 

Andriy Pyshnyi, Ukraine’s new central bank governor, and Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko held talks in Vienna this week with officials of the Washington-based lender.

Ukraine is seeking to borrow as much as $20 billion from the IMF to shore up its foreign reserves and budget as Russia’s invasion inflicts an economic contraction of more than 30% this year.

Infrastructure Aid Pouring in, Ukraine PM Tells Cabinet (4:30 p.m.)

The US has disbursed $55 million for the repair and maintenance of Ukraine’s gas pipelines, part of multinational aid after recent Russian attacks, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said. 

Electrical power distribution equipment and parts are on the way from Belgium, Poland, Germany, Italy and other countries to Ukraine’s Ukrenergo, he said.

Separately, Shmyhal called for the UN, European Union and others to mount a monitoring mission to the occupied Kakhovska heating power plant, which Ukraine says has been mined by Russian forces ahead of a possible dam explosion on the Dnipro River above Kherson.  

Russian, US Defense Chiefs Speak for First Time Since May (3:22 p.m.)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the Ukraine war and other global security issues with US counterpart Lloyd Austin, Tass said, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.

The brief report provided no other details of the phone call. In a separate readout, the Pentagon said Austin “emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication amid the ongoing war.” The US last announced a call between the two on May 13.

Austin also spoke on Friday with Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, the Pentagon said.  

EU Considers Naming Sanctions Envoy (3 p.m.) 

The European Union may name a senior official to serve as sanctions envoy to help the bloc counter efforts to circumvent its sanctions on Russia, said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. 

“Our experience is that it is very helpful to send this sanctions envoy, for example, to third countries to be very clear about what we observe,” she said. 

In its most recent sanctions package, the bloc added a provision that authorizes sanctions on people and entities who send EU goods to Russia via third countries, an expansion of the EU’s reach that von der Leyen called “a very strong deterrent.”

Ukraine Restores Infrastructure, Logs Crimes in Kharkiv, Kherson (3:08 p.m.)

Ukrainian law enforcement have recorded almost 1,700 cases of military crimes by Russian occupants in 551 liberated settlements in the Kharkiv region, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the presidential staff, said in a video statement. In 88 settlements already de-occupied in the Kherson region, 165 cases have been registered so far. 

Energy infrastructure and other critical services are being restored in both regions as thousands of civilian buildings and facilities were damaged by Russian attacks, especially. Liberated towns and villages in the Kharkiv region are being supplied with equipment for power generation and for heating, Tymoshenko said. 

Zelenskiy Meets US Congress Delegation, EBRD Chief (2:30 p.m.)

Ukraine’s president met in Kyiv with three members of the US House Intelligence committee: Michael Turner of Ohio, the top-ranked Republican, and Jim Himes of Connecticut and Eric Swalwell of California, both Democrats. He repeated calls for more air defense to protect Ukrainian civilians and critical infrastructure from Russian attacks. 

Zelenskiy said the delegation showed bipartisan support for Ukraine, days after House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy appeared to cast doubt on future aid should Republicans gain the majority in November’s election. 

Zelenskiy also met with Odile Renaud-Basso, president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The pair discussed additional lending to Ukraine’s energy sector.   

Musk Wades In on Ukraine Again (1 p.m.)

Elon Musk says hasn’t spoken with Vladimir Putin since the Russian president sent his troops into Ukraine. But the billionaire’s warm words for a satirical tweet from a top Kremlin official about departing UK Prime Minister Liz Truss drew him into an unusual back-and-forth over the war: Tweeting Praise for Putin Ally, Musk Wades In on Ukraine Again

Ukraine Power Grid Recovering, Data Suggest (11:20 a.m.)

Ukraine’s electricity grid showed signs of recovery after crews repaired infrastructure damaged by Russian attacks and households reduced the amount of power consumed.

Generation was exceeding demand by just 20 megawatts, equivalent to the amount of power two US homes consume in a year, according to the latest data published by the International Energy Agency. The shift into a positive balance on Friday from a deficit the day before could reduce the length and frequency of rolling blackouts.

Grid operator Ukrenergo warned consumers on Thursday to expect power outages between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. after Russia’s missile barrage against infrastructure lamed power assets.

Ukrainian Grid Operator Limits Power (11 a.m.)

Ukrenergo said it limited power supply in four central and northern regions and the capital Kyiv due to a sharp increase in consumption.

The limits were established to help reduce the load on power grids and give energy companies time to repair damaged equipment, the company said in a statement on Telegram.

Belgian Premier Backs More Iran Sanctions (10 a.m.)

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said he would support additional sanctions against Iran over the country’s oppression of its population and its military support for Russia in its war in Ukraine.

“The role they play in the Ukrainian war is more and more clear,” De Croo told reporters ahead of the second day of the EU summit in Brussels. “There as European countries we should react.” The EU adopted new sanctions against Iran this week due to its violent crackdown on protesters and drone deliveries to Russia.

Germany Says Russian Leaders Will Face Trial (9 a.m.)

Germany’s justice minister said he’s certain that Russia’s leaders will face trial at the International Criminal Court over the invasion of Ukraine.

“Impunity for this war of aggression and the war crimes that have taken place would be such a great defeat for the basic idea and validity of international law that we must do everything we can to avoid it,” Justice Minister Marco Buschmann said in a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“We will arrest perpetrators when they come to Europe,” Buschmann said. “But we will also call on a post-Putin Russia to extradite suspected war criminals.”

Russian Mogul’s Megayacht Leaves Hong Kong (5 a.m.)

After mysteriously sailing into Hong Kong two weeks ago, Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov’s $500 million superyacht weighed anchor and departed for South Africa. It was southeast of Hainan Island on Friday morning.

Mordashov, the biggest shareholder in steelmaker Severstal PJSC, was sanctioned by the European Union, the UK and US following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. While the US warned Hong Kong that its status as a financial hub could be threatened if it assisted sanctioned individuals, the city said it didn’t have legal authority to take action on sanctions imposed by other jurisdictions.

Russia Has Mined Major Dam, Zelenskiy Says (1 a.m.)

Volodymyr Zelenskiy told European leaders that Kremlin forces have mined a major dam in the occupied south, threatening “hundreds of thousands” with flooding and endangering the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. 

Ukraine’s president said Kremlin forces had packed the dam with explosives at the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, more than 40 miles upstream from Russian-occupied city of Kherson on the Dnipro River. 

“All world leaders should make Russia understand that a terrorist attack on the Kakhovka HPP will be equated to the use of weapons of mass destruction,” Zelenskiy said in an address to the nation Thursday night.  

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